Sometimes simpler is better. When Alexandre Delaunay, founder of the Paris and Brooklyn–based SABO project, was approached to design a home for young Parisian family in the 15th arrondissement, he decided to use clean, custom plywood millwork and let the objects in the space speak for themselves.
The family had purchased the 1,658-square-foot duplex in a building typical of 1950s-era Parisian housing stock, and both sections needed renovations. SABO stripped the ceilings of both floors back to the concrete slab, centered the flow of both floors around the freestanding spiral staircase, and flipped the home’s programming on its head.
The bedrooms, master bathroom, and office were gathered on the lower floor to shield the family against the noise of the busy Parisian streetscape. SABO also relocated the unit’s front door to the upper level, where the living room, dining room, and kitchen are afforded sweeping views of the city. Large windows on both floors afford plenty of natural light, which is reflected in the simple, airy material palette.
Rubbery white resin, Baltic birch plywood, and raw concrete create a backdrop for the family’s furniture and design objects without being too intrusive.
This choice also offered SABO a great deal of flexibility and opportunities for fun flourishes. A superblock of cabinets in the kitchen contains not only storage but two ovens and a bed space for the family’s cat. A sliding plywood wall can close off the kitchen from the rest of the apartment, sealing in cooking odors and concealing the space when company is over. An arched cutout allows the cat to come and go even when the door is closed. Look closer, however, and the mouse hole–like shape can be found all over the cabinets, where SABO repeated the shape to create their pulls.
The spiral staircase at the heart of both floors is veiled in end strips of plywood that are denser on the right-hand side, creating a hand guide without the use of a real railing. The staircase lives in a central choke point found on both levels, creating a bridge between the two halves of each floor.
“I saw them as a young, sophisticated couple,” said Delaunay. “I thought a lot of custom millwork would have great impact in terms of tailoring it to their needs, and with a high degree of finish, but that the plywood would keep it laid back and not too ostentatious. It would keep things modest, like they are.”
Header image: Keeping with Sacha’s material palette, SABO opted to use plywood to delineate the spiral staircase. The long strips of end grain create an instant contrast with the smooth paneling used elsewhere. (Alexandre Delaunay)